Can You Prevent Your Best People From Leaving?

Your talent is heading for the exit sign - retain them now

Are you at risk from your best people heading for the exit?

I was reading a blog from the Forbes website, and the article struck me that maybe it was time to raise this “elephant in the room” issue that no one wants to address.

I screamed “WOLF” about this issue a couple of times before – but let’s have at it again. Here’s what Edward Lawler said in his Forbes article (maybe you will not believe it when Barry Deutsch speaks – but perhaps an article on Forbes gives the concept some validity):

 

The economy is getting stronger, and as a result, more and more individuals are looking for better jobs. A recent survey by Lloyds found that executives believe a talent shortage is the number two risk facing business today, up from twenty-second place in 2009.

 

Put Retention PROGRAMS in place right now!

Are you putting specific retention programs in place right now. With the economy heating up, everyone acknowledging a talent shortage, and employee satisfaction hovering at depression-era levels, is anyone concerned that the lid may blow and lots of your best people starting leaving like dominos falling?

Once the brain drain begins, many of the folks who “aligned” themselves with your best talent, starting heading to the door with equal speed.

You can prevent your best people from leaving!

However, wishing and crossing your fingers doesn’t work. Nor does leaving it up to each individual manager.

Here are some proactive steps you can start taking today:

  • Identify your high potential/high impact employees
  • Ensure they have stimulating work
  • Sit down with each one and map out a learning and development plan for the next year
  • Assign an executive to be their mentor
  • Come up with a list of projects that will intellectually challenge them
  • Find places in your organization to leverage their best talents and skills
  • Are there non-monetary rewards and recognition you can give this group of “A” performers when they exceed your expectations?

 

Take Care of Your Best Talent

Not taking care of your “A” talent will result in the “A” talent leaving. I know it’s “unfair” to single out this group and give them specific notice, projects, and nurturing. Unfortunately, in most companies, the biggest successes, results, and outcomes follow the Pareto Principle. 20% of your workforce (typically your most talented) generate 80% of the significant change, improvement, and growth in your business. No surprises in that statement.

Are you ready to shift from a mental framework of abundance (typical in poor job market) of “these people should be lucky to have a job” to a framework of scarcity (typical in a good market). It’s been so long since we’ve had a good job market – it’s hard to remember what a struggle it can be to keep and recruit talent.

What’s your plan to keep your very best people engaged and “recruiter-proof” your company?

Read more about the techniques of recruiting and retaining top talent, especially what motivates great performers, in our award-winning and best-selling book, You’re NOT the Person I Hired. The book is available as a FREE digital download on our website.

To read the full article on Forbes, click the link below:

Preventing the Loss of Key Talent

Barry Deutsch

Is Reference Checking Worthwhile?

Q. What do you recommend when it comes to checking references and is it even worth the effort?

Reference checking when done correctly can be very powerful. I believe the problem isn't with checking references, but rather how the reference check is performed.

Most reference checking is more of a box checking exercise than what it really should be, which is validating that the candidate really did what they told you in the interview. That should be the focus of a reference check.

Good reference checking starts with good interviewing. Train your people to ask for examples in the interview. Probe deeply into those examples to get time frames, budget, size, issues they overcame, problems they solved, why they did X instead of Y and so on.  Then instead of asking the standard box checking questions everyone asks, change the reference check. Ask the reference, “During the interview, Mary indicated she did X, can you tell me more about what her role was and some of the more difficult issues she had to overcome?” Does the reference's story validate what the candidate told you or is it something different? Was the candidate accurate or did they embellish? When references are done properly they can provide a wealth of valuable information.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE for your FREE eBook.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

 

3 Guarantees To Recruiter-Proof Your Best Talent

As recruiters for more than 30 years, my partner Barry Deutsch and I have intuitively known why every now and then a potential candidate we try to recruit says to us, “Thanks for the call, but I really like my position.”  Until last year though, we have never actually validated those reasons. Last year I decided to start keeping a list of the reasons these candidates indicate they are so happy. Usually, we just say, “OK” and make another call. Last year I probed a little further. I started asking , “Why” or “What makes your position so enjoyable that you won't consider something else?”

You will have to read to bottom of the article to find out  the most interesting and yet obvious aspect of the informal survey.

First some background. Since most of our executive search practice tends to be at relatively senior levels, most of the comments are not from entry level or manager level people. Although having recruited at these levels for many years, I believe the same reasons apply at all levels, including labor, hourly and administration, or non-exempt as well as exempt employees.

I have prioritized these as best I can, however, I doubt that there is that much difference between the rankings, with the first one as the exception. I also firmly believe that the happiest, and therefore the candidates virtually impossible to recruit away, have all three of these in their position.

1) A boss they can respect is far and away the biggest reason for a potential candidate turning down our recruitment efforts. They never use the word respect, that is our word. Respecting their boss is not the same as liking their boss. I'm not suggesting they don't like their boss, just that you shouldn't interchange the two. Although the majority do have some sort of personal relationship with their boss, many tell us their boss is hard to work with, demanding, too direct or blunt, not a people person, and other words similar to these. So what is respect? It means that their boss takes an interest in them and their career. It is more than just approving of their work. Their boss ensures that they are continually challenged (see Success Factors below), they often referred to their boss as a mentor,  they are growing and becoming better, their job doesn't fit easily into a predetermined job description, they know each other on a personal level, and their boss actually seems to care about them and their career succeeding to put it simply. They are not taken for granted. Their position isn't one of we are doing you a favor letting you work here. Rather both receive value from the relationship.

Their fear in leaving is that they know that few bosses are this way and they don't want to risk leaving a good to great boss. They are not just there to do a job, they are a person that wants to feel good about their job when they get up everyday to go to work and their boss contributes to this.

Do the people you manage feel this way about you or the managers in your company?

2) The candidates are learning and growing. They see positive change in themselves and their careers as they look back on each year. This is why Success Factors are so important. This is the tool by which they measure their growth. A Success Factor includes time based  measurable goals, often stretch goals for the person to achieve. Top talent and your best people like challenges and want to be stretched. It gives them a sense of fulfillment when they achieve the goals coupled with a sense of purpose. Achieving the Success Factors is often the excitement that gets them up each morning and coming to work. It also demonstrates their boss's interest in them. Success Factors send a clear signal that as their boss your role is to help them improve and find purpose in their job. This isn't just a job where you come to work to do the same routine duties and tasks everyday and then go home. Average to below average talent want this. Top talent will grow and become something better by working for this boss.

Do your people have measurable Success Factors? Every position in an organization from the CEO to the janitor should have measurable Success Factors.

3) They are making an impact. This doesn't have to be a significant life changing impact. Any impact is better than just doing a job. We believe it is this impact that makes them really enjoy their job. Everything else contributes to the enjoyment of their job, but feeling like one is positively impacting the business makes an employee feel like they are part of the team. It gives them purpose in the job. They are now directly linked to the company's success and  its profits. They take great  pride in this. They know that regardless of how small a role they played, they did play a role. When the CEO stands up and thanks the employees for the successful year, they feel the CEO is personally thanking them.

Are your people impacting your organization? Do they feel a sense of purpose that their job is important and contributes to the success of the organization?

Here is the most interesting and yet obvious thing that came out of this informal survey. We validated why certain employees enjoy their job and even a recruiter can't pull them out. Inadvertently, we also validated that these same reasons apply as to why someone  wants to leave an organization. When these things aren't present, the employee is likely to start looking for something better. A position that includes all three rarely has turnover.

You can take an easy assessment of your hiring process with our free Hiring Methodology 8-Point Scorecard. Find the strengths and weaknesses of your hiring process. CLICK HERE to download.

If you struggle with finding people, you can download the chapter from our best-selling book “You're NOT The Person I Hired” on sourcing top talent. It is free and one of our most downloaded items. Simply CLICK HERE to get your free chapter.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. If you liked this article please pass it along to others and post it on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Brad Remillard

Do Your Employees Trust You?

Dysfunctional boss who has zero trust with his team

In numerous studies, surveys, and research, employees indicate over and over that trusting their immediate supervisor is one of the most important elements of their job satisfaction.

  • Can you honestly say that your direct reports trust you? Do their direct reports trust them?
  • How do you know?
  • Do you cross your fingers hoping they trust you?
  • Have you conducted any anonymous surveys recently? Hired a coach to ask a few tough questions? Solicited feedback from your staff?

Probably NOT.

Implications of a lack of TRUST

The number one reason employees decide to leave their jobs is due to a lack of opportunity. More on this subject in another blog post. The second most common reason is loss of respect for their immediate supervisor/boss. AND there is no faster way to lose respect than the destruction of trust.

How many of the employees in your company have one foot out the door, are actively searching the job boards, or would leave immediately for an appropriate job at a lateral level just to get away from your company?

If general trends hold true for your company, probably about 50% of your staff are open to a better opportunity – they’re trying to see if the grass is greener somewhere else. Of this 50%, what percentage got to the point of seeking greener pastures because they lost respect for their boss — due to no longer trusting that individual?

6 Components of a Trusting Relationship

Let’s delve a little deeper into some of the specific issues that define the level of trust between and employee and her boss. By the way, if I somehow manage to leave out a key issue that you think is important, jump right in and pose your trust issue as a comment.

Communication: I recently put up a blog post on our Leadership Community Blog regarding how communication can affect trust. The more you communicate, the higher the trust. Communication might include telling your staff the reasons behind your requests and commands, it might include tying business results to their activities, it might include conducting one-to-one feedback and coaching sessions.

Being fair: Nothing will destroy a relationship between a boss and her subordinate faster than NOT BEING FAIR. The typical example of a lack of fairness is when the boss sets different levels of performance standards for various team members. When the boss plays favorites, or frequently lets select team members “off the hook”, the rest of the team resents it and loses trust.

Rational and objective: You’ve got your emotions in check. You’re not a mercurial, table-pounding, wall-smacking screamer. You don’t “fly off the handle”. You don’t throw tantrums. The argument with your 17 year old this morning, or the driver who cut you off and then made an obscene gesture at you – doesn’t affect how you treat your people. You never criticize the person or put people down. You’re good at asking questions to solve problems and guiding/coaching your people to solutions.

Their success is important to you: Your staff respects you. They seek your advice on their career. You demonstrate a interest in their success by having occasional conversations about their career – perhaps once a quarter in your one-to-one sessions. You’re able to remove your “boss” hat and put on your “career coach” hat. You can have an deep and objective conversation about their dreams and expectations.

You “have their back”: Your staff will occasionally run into trouble with customers, vendors, suppliers, peers, and those higher up the food chain – like your boss, the board, or other peers on the executive team. Do you “have their back”? Will you stretch your neck out to protect your people. Can they go about the day doing a good job knowing you’ll always have their back.

If not, do they move through the day like frightened rodents, avoiding trouble and trying to fade into the woodwork? Are the members of your team “risk-takers” willing to do what they believe is in the best interest of the company – or do they cower behind you dumping every issue onto your back to solve?

They learn from you: A prime motivator of top talent is that they want to grow and learn. Do you help them reach their potential by giving them challenging assignments, stretching them through coaching to achieve outstanding results, providing meaningful work that is stimulating, learning-oriented, and impactful? Do you send them to classes, webinars, courses to expand their knowledge and skills? For example, do you sit down with each of your direct reports once or twice a year and develop a detailed learning plan to move their capacity to a new level?

Are you failing your team by not focusing on these six components of developing a trusting relationship? When should you decide to stop the typical insanity that takes place in most companies where trust is assumed since people show up for work everyday.

Just showing up is not indicative of trust.

Do you have a plan for how you’ll build trust with your team over the next year? Do you know what to do? If not, pick one of the ideas listed below and start down the path of building a trusting relationship with each of your direct reports.

How to build a Trusting Relationship

Could your executive or managerial team pass a test with flying colors if their staff was asked to score them on the above 6 components. If the answer is anything short of a resounding YES – then perhaps it’s time to conduct an intervention to improve trust:

  • Bring in a resource to teach how to build trust
  • Turn gaining trust into a process
  • Incorporate trust as an element when you conduct 360 degree feedback or employee satisfaction surveys (of course, this is an integral part of your employee engagement and motivation programs – right?)
  • Do you score “TRUST” when you evaluate your executives and managers annually? If you don’t score it, and it’s not a component of determining bonuses, why should anyone care? Most employees will do what you measure and reward. If trust is not measured and rewarded – they’ll assume it’s not important to you.
  • Send your executives and managers to “charm” school to learn how to develop trust with their subordinates
  • Make your team read a book about building trust and discuss it in your next staff meeting
  • Force career management discussions at least quarterly with documentation as part of the one-to-one process
  • Role model the importance of trust through-out the organization by demonstrating it continually with your direct reports (do you consciously and continuously think about building trust with each of your direct reports)
  • Freely distribute information about company performance so everyone can understand the role they play in your overall success
  • Publish and promote trust as one of the core values of your company (I assume you’ve already gone through this exercise and your values are loudly proclaimed through-out the company – handing on a banner in the lobby, on the back of business cards, posted everywhere)

If you’re not actively building and improving trust through-out your organization RIGHT NOW, be prepared for high percentage of your best performers to walk out the door as the job market turns over the issue of lack of trust – lack of respect.

Barry Deutsch

Growing and Retaining Productive Employees

Recently, on one of the e-mail lists to which I subscribe, a colleague mentioned that he had been counseled by one of his mentors that the best thing he could do for his good employees was to fire a bad employee. Sounds harsh, yet it is true that for the greater good, we have to sometimes admit that we will not be able to help an underperforming employee to make the grade. It’s best for them and for the organization if we “make their services available to industry.”

I admire the companies for whom I have worked that have gone out of their way to make sure that they did everything possible to help their employees be productive and happy. They provided training. They moved people from one place to another. They provided internal mentors or professional coaches to both high performing employees and those who needed to “push on some growing edges” for the sake of their career. But what I and others appreciated the most was that they were also willing to set some goals and if they were not reached, the employee was dismissed, compassionately.

I have found that this view of “tough love” approach to employees is particularly difficult in small businesses. In many small businesses, employees are like family, except they get a salary and benefits instead of an allowance! The problem is that we should never hire someone we cannot fire, and family members, real or adopted, are extremely difficult to let go. Now is the time, however, to really pay attention to and begin action on shaping your corporate culture to be one based on performance, consistency and fairness – at all levels.

I know that many of us have been forced to “cut to the bone” during this recession. You may well believe that there is no room for more cuts, and perhaps you are correct. That does not mean, however, that your culture is one that will support an understanding of performance, consistency and fairness going forward. All of your executives, managers and employees know that you were “forced to downsize” in order to stay alive. They will not see your actions as being performance based so much as needing to cut costs, unless you truly did reduce your workforce based on performance. Perhaps you used the seniority or LIFO (last in, first out) method to make your decisions. If so, your employees do not believe that their performance will influence their employment with you – so no loyalty either.

If you believe you have really made the reductions in force using performance as the main criteria, then you don’t have a problem. If, however, you were not consistent and fair in how you reduced your workforce, then you will have a very difficult time as the economy turns around and people are willing to change jobs. Many of us are dealing with workers who are sticking with us, even though they are not particularly happy, because they know they do not want to be “on the street with a resume” at this point. They feel overworked, burned out, and in need of something exciting to pick up their spirits. How will you keep the good employees, the ones that are the most productive?

I recommend two things that are a bit counter intuitive. First, be ruthless in getting your employees to stop doing things they and you can do without. Stop making that report you’ve always looked at but on which you base no business decisions. There are likely many other tasks with which you can do without. Unburden your employees by making sure that no expendable or marginal tasks are continued. Nice to have no longer cuts it.

Second, and more on topic, begin now carefully, consistently, and fairly evaluating employees for performance and how well they adapt to change (like letting go of tasks). You must not allow poor performers to stay in the organization or you will totally demoralize your whole workforce. I’ve said before that there are many good employees, excellent employees, who are either available now or because their present employer is not as enlightened as you, will be available if they know you are prepared to bring them on board. It is a good time to build a winning team comprising your best players and the best players who have yet to be hired.

To help companies and hiring managers identify some of the things that managers can do to retain their best talent we have put together for you to download our 8 Level Retention Matrix. This matrix will help you identify whether or not your managers are doing what it takes to retain your best talent.

If your managers do some, or most of these, you won't lose your talent to a recruiter. Your competition will.

You can also download for free our most popular chapter on sourcing top talent from our best-selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired. CLICK HERE to download your free chapter.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after business advisor and mentor. He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.